Mulligan's mobilisation techniques are thought to increase the range of movement (ROM) in patients with low back pain. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the application of the Mulligan's Sustained Natural Apophyseal Glide (SNAG) technique on lumbar flexion ROM. The secondary aim was to measure the intra- and inter-day reliability of lumbar ROM employing the same procedure.
49 asymptomatic volunteers participated in this double-blinded study. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either SNAG mobilisation (n = 25), or a sham mobilisation (n = 24). The SNAG technique was applied at the L3and L4 spinal levels with active flexion in sitting by an experienced manual therapist. Three sets of 10 repetitions at each of the two spinal levels were performed. The sham mobilisation was similar to the SNAG but did not apply the appropriate direction or force. Lumbar ROM was measured by a three dimensional electronic goniometer (Zebris CMS20), before and after each technique. For the reliability, five measurements in two different days (one week apart) were performed in 20 healthy subjects.
When both interventions were compared, independent t tests yielded no statistically significant results in ROM between groups (p = 0.673). Furthermore no significant within group differences were observed: SNAG (p = 0.842), sham (p = 0.169). Intra- and inter-day reliability of flexion measurements was high (ICC1,1 > 0.82, SEM < 4.0°, SDD<16.3%) indicating acceptable clinical applicability.
While the Zebris proved to be a reliable device for measuring lumbar flexion ROM, SNAG mobilisation did not demonstrate significant differences in flexion ROM when compared to sham mobilisation.